For the Black Girls Who Have Been Labeled as Mean, Bitter, or Angry for Simply Existing: Why Serena Williams’ Demand for an Apology Resonates with Black Women.

Two weeks into my first college job, my white female supervisor pulled me aside and had a talk with me asking if everything was “okay” because she claimed I had an attitude since starting the job.

I think she gave me that label because I was quiet. Shy. And not very bubbly or friendly with her. Which is something it seemed like she wanted. That talk really shook me. I went home and cried because I thought I was going to get fired.

She owes me an apology.

This interaction I had with that supervisor at eighteen years old exemplifies that as Black girls and women, we are not even allowed to mind our business without someone placing a label on us.

This is why Serena’s demand for an apology is so important and necessary.

Laugh if you will, but watching Serena demand an apology from someone who was abusing his position over her, in a racist and sexist manner actually brought tears to my eyes. Not because the specific situation was particularly compelling. I mean, losing your cool or becoming frustrated during a sporting event is not rare. It’s quite common actually. She did what many athletes do when they get unfair calls so that in and of itself isn’t what moved me.

What moved me was how eerily familiar that frustration in her voice was. It reminded me of all the times I was unfairly labeled as having an attitude or being mean but kept quiet because I did not want to perpetuate the “angry Black girl” stereotype. It felt like Serena’s demand wasn’t just for her at that moment but for all of the Black girls that have been unfairly labeled as mean, bitter, or angry for simply existing.

Even when just doing our jobs, or minding our business, its almost like we have to put on a face to make others around us feel comfortable. I’ve realized that now, as a 26-year-old young professional, in all of my workplaces I have unknowing put on a more “pleasant” demeanor because people often label me being reserved as me being mean or mad. These fake pleasantries often consist of forcing myself to smile and chat with or exchange pleasantries with people I don’t really feel like talking to.

We live in a society that vilifies Black women, and particularly those of us with darker skin. We are often disparagingly labeled as mean or angry even when anger is an appropriate response to a situation.

Thank you, Serena, for being brave and courageous enough to call it out. We love and appreciate you.

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Amnesty International: Give A Home Event Recap

This afternoon, I was blessed with an opportunity to link up with my brother Emmanuel Jal, a Nuer spoken word and hip-hop artist, to enjoy a concert series that included Ed Sheeran and others to raise awareness about the global refugee crisis.

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Emmanuel, alongside Holly Branson, was in DC hosting an event put together by Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds, entitled #GiveAHome. The event, as described by the organizations is “Massive global concert series will show solidarity with refugees.”

This event put together over 300 live shows in over 60 countries featuring established and brand new artists. The concerts were hosted in peoples homes all over the goal with the idea in mind that refugees deserve somewhere to call home when they are forced to leave their homes due to varying factors such as war, famine, or natural disasters. “Music and art have always been powerful partners to the cause of justice because they share an ability to stir something deep within us. They help us to look beyond borders and see what unites us” says Salil Shetty the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Music and art have always been powerful partners to the cause of justice because they share an ability to stir something deep within us. They help us to look beyond borders and see what unites us” says Salil Shetty the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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Amnesty International is a global organization that campaigns and raises awareness for various human rights issues. The organization’s website describes the organization as “a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.”

In looking for a creative way to raise awareness about the global refugee crises that currently affects over 22 million people, Amnesty International partnered with Sofar Sounds to bring together artists, musicians, and creatives all over the world to put together this one of a kind concert series. SoFar Sounds is an events company that puts together “secret gigs and intimate concerts”  based on the idea that the best way to enjoy music in a respectful and intimate setting.

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The DC concert this afternoon started by an amazing spoken word piece by Emmanuel and he was followed by Ed Sheeran.

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Emmanuel, a former child soldier from our native South Sudan,  is an amazingly talented artist, actor, author, and activist. “Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and go on to emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.”

Below is a TedTalk he did a few years back so you can hear him tell his story.

The Fenty Beauty Foundation is Perfect…Just Not a Perfect Match for Me.

So a few months back, I appeared in a YouTube video with my MUA friend Ronke Raji that got over a million views. In the video, she did my makeup and in a voice over I spoke a bit about my struggles with finding the right shades when it came to foundations, concealers, and all things makeup. The darkest shades of many of the brands that are affordable and in my budget as a student just never worked for me. My skin is very even toned throughout my body so the color of my face, chest, and shoulders is the same. Many times the foundations I find leave my face looking cakey, ashy, or lighter than the rest of my body. During the filming of that video, I came to her with the foundation that I typically worked with and it was her who showed me why it was all wrong for my tone. I am a law student and I’m always pretty busy so makeup has never been something that I tried learning too much about. I didn’t understand what undertones are and I didn’t understand how to match a foundation to my skin tone. I always just thought, “Well this is the darkest shade they have so it should work.” So yes, I was out here using the WRONG shade for a VERY long time or just not wearing foundation at all. It wasn’t until she finished my makeup using a foundation that actually matched me that I understood.

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With the launching of the FENTY BEAUTY line, I, like many other folks who frequent or dabble in makeup, was unbelievably excited. I saw the campaign and saw that there was a  model whose skin tone may be similar to mine so I was hopeful that she would have a shade for me as well. And honestly, anything Rihanna does is amazing so I was gonna go out and give her my coins off principle. (Yes, I am a Rihanna stan and I continue to be)

Before heading to Sephora I saw a few initial reviews from dark skin beauty bloggers that I typically watch to get ideas. A few of them tried the darkest shade and based on their reviews I was a bit nervous that this shade wouldn’t work for me. The tones seemed very red but, nonetheless, I was still excited and headed to Sephora. When I saw the products in person, I got a bit worried because the color of the foundation from the bottle definitely looked like it would be too light for me. Still, I asked to have one of the artists color-match me. She grabbed the two darkest shades and swatched one on each side of my face. We sat there for a bit to let it set in. I looked in the mirror and I think she saw the worry on my face. She quickly said, “I mean, you could maybe make it work.” We looked at each other and both just said “nah” and laughed a bit. She apologized and suggested that I contact the company to let them know that the darkest shade didn’t work for me. I didn’t buy the foundation or anything else. But, I do plan on going back to pick up some of the glosses and highlighter, cause RiRi is still gonna get some of my coins. *I did go back and get the shimmer skin stick in the color rum and OMG, The highlight was unmatched. I also used it as a shadow on my eyes. 

I was honestly more sad than anything after leaving the store empty handed. I wanted to go home with a bag of goodies like I had seen so many of my friends had on social media.  After posting my initial reaction on Instagram, I had a couple friends whose skin tone is similar to mine, let me know that the darkest shade did not work for them either. The campaign does feature a South Sudanese model whose skin tone is similar to mine at first glance, but there is such a wide variety of shades and undertones that come with our skin. *Note, comparing skin tones to highlight nuances and differences in shade with photos is nearly impossible due to differences in lighting, editing, etc,

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Here, the foundation (AJ Crimson Shade 8) and concealer used were very true to my color.  *She literally created a new shade of concealer for me by darkening a product she already had with black eye shadow.*

I think when people see us they think that we are all the same shade when in reality our shades are just as varied and nuanced as the rest of the spectrum. I know many friends and family members whose skin tone is almost straight black with no hints of brown or red. So, while shade 480 or shade 490 may be the absolute perfect shade for one of my sisters, it didn’t work for me and I would imagine it wouldn’t work for anyone with darker skin than myself. Again, for me, my skin is very even toned so if I use a foundation that is even slightly lighter than my skin, the difference on my face is pretty noticeable, if not to others, it is to me. Continue reading “The Fenty Beauty Foundation is Perfect…Just Not a Perfect Match for Me.”

I Stand With DREAMERs.

So recently, Trump made another “I can’t believe he did that shit” Presidential decision. On Tuesday, Trump and his administration announced that they would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was started under the Obama administration. DACA is a program that provides almost 800,000 young people an avenue to obtain State IDs, work permits, and protection from deportation. Like many government programs, there are many requirements before a young person can qualify for DACA.

So, why does Trump calling an end to DACA matter? What does the end of DACA mean for all of those young people? Why does that matter to all of us?

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Well for beginners, this means these young people are no longer safe from deportation. This means that anyone who is in the system and received their documents under the DACA program are going to live in anxiety and fear. Imagine the thoughts running through their minds. First, they revealed their undocumented status with a promise that they would be safe from deportation. They have additionally had to go through rigorous background checks and paid fees to gain their status. Now, they may be forced to leave their schools, jobs, and military posts if Congress does not act.

There are many capitalistic and economic arguments being made about how much money the US economy will lose if Congress does not act but that is beyond the scope of this blog. While I find those arguments valid and I completely understand why folks choose to lead the discussion based on them, I chose to focus on the moral and human aspect of the whole issue.

While I find this Trump decision, like all Trump decisions, unbelievably problematic and moronic, as an immigrant and as a refugee, this specifically resonates with me.

So, while I refuse to push the idea and agenda that the US is a perfect country and that it’s great for everyone, I do recognize that there are certain opportunities here that do not exist elsewhere due to varying historical factors. For example, many of the home countries that DACA recipients come from are dealing with various economic and human rights abuses. Many of their families are literally fleeing their home, their comfort zones, and their families to survive survive.

One thing I need to people to understand is that when a parent makes the decision to leave everything they know to start a new life in a foreign country, it is not because they plan on going there to “take jobs”. That decision is based on their humanistic desire to survive and provide opportunities for their children. This understanding is something I heard over and over growing up. When my parents decided to get in line for the refugee camps and later decided to get on a plane to a place they had never even seen pictures of, it was because their backs were against the ropes. All they knew was that whatever they were about to embark on, in this new country had to be better than the hunger, famine, and violence they were facing back home.

These same thoughts, I imagine, are the same thoughts that crossed the minds of the parents of the DREAMERS. They simply wanted better for their children. They wanted their children to have opportunities they never had. They wanted to literally save their children’s lives. So, when the DREAM act was passed and their children were able to qualify for DACA and attend school and gain legal employment, their decision was worth it.

So, not only should we care about what this Trump decision means to the individual DREAMERS, we need to think about what this does to families.

And once we’re done thinking about all of the terrible implications this decision has, we then need to act. There are many ways to show that you stand with DREAMERs.

Below is a link to a Huff Post Article that outlines how you can make an impact by contacting the White House and Congress and by using your social media platforms to have your voice heard.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/daca-has-ended-you-are-outraged-heres-what-you-can_us_59ae4bd7e4b0c50640cd619e

Continue reading “I Stand With DREAMERs.”